Diabetic Diet: What foods to eat and avoid
Important food groups to help control your Diabetes and what to avoid. Compare the recommended diets and decide what works for you.
What foods should Diabetics eat?
Professor Tim Noakes certainly knows how to set the cat among the pigeons.
After being a strong supporter of high carbohydrate intake for exercise and sports performance he turned about face to shun all carbs. An internet search of his approach to healthy eating brings up an array of negative and confusing headlines.
A Times Media article explains that “Noakes’s high-fat diet or eating plan, also known as the Banting diet, is for people who are diabetic or overweight. It promotes eating saturated fats, avoiding all sugar and reducing carbohydrates to about 50g a day.” The controversy surrounding Prof Noakes diet stems from a lack of long-term, substantiated evidence.
Colleagues of Noakes’ from UCT “sent a letter to the Editor of the Cape Times to warn readers that Banting may result in nutritional deficiencies, as well as an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems, constipation, certain cancers and excessive iron stores in some people,” reports Health24 in an article earlier this year. His diet was even labelled ‘criminal’ by a Johannesburg cardiologist last year.
So what is a diabetic to do? Which diet do you entrust your health to? The choice can only be yours; but if we could offer any advice, it would be to consult a dietician who would ensure that your diet meets your specific needs. Diabetes is not a condition to take lightly; and with diet being a huge factor in the control of diabetes it deserves thorough understanding, and dare we say, no rash decisions.
Compare the diets below suggested by Prof Noakes, Diabetes SA, Diabetes UK and the American Diabetes Association. You’ll notice commonalities among them and of course some differences too. The diets recommended by these organisations are based on decades of study whereas the Noakes diet is obviously more recent.
Decide for yourself.
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Comparing recommended diets for Diabetics
- Eggs (free range).
- Meat – beef, game e.g. ostrich.
- Dairy – full cream milk. Yoghurt, cheese.
- Green leafy vegetables.
- Nuts – almonds, macadamias, walnuts.
- Fruits rich in colour.
- Sugars – sugary drinks, artificial sweeteners, pastries, cakes, sweets, sugary desserts.
- Pasta, pizza.
- White rice.
- White potatoes.
- Oats and breakfast cereals.
- Fruits rich in sugar.
- Vegetable oils.
- Eat plenty of bread, cereals, pulses, vegetables, fruit.
- Limit your sugar intake.
- Drink lots of water.
- Limit your fat intake.
- Cut back on salt.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
Choices of type and quantity of the foods in these 5 groups will vary from person to person and will depend on your goals and needs:
- Fruit and vegetables.
- Starches – bread, rice, pasta, potatoes.
- Non-dairy proteins – meat, fish, eggs, beans.
- Foods high in fat/sugar.
This website identifies what it calls ‘superfoods’ to be included in as many meals as possible, and then considers other food groups:
- Superfoods – beans, dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit, sweet potatoes, berries, tomatoes, fish (salmon), whole grains, nuts, fat-free milk and yoghurt.
- Healthy fats e.g. monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and Omega fatty acids.
- Limited alcohol.
- Lots of non-starchy vegetables.
- Certain grains and starchy vegetables.
- Certain proteins.
- Zero/low-calorie drinks.
- Low fat/fat-free dairy.
- Fresh fruit.
We all have questions.
Below are some of the answers to the most common questions that you need to know.
Which is worse – Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?
“Worse” is a harsh comparison. The difference between these two types of Diabetes is that Type 1 requires insulin, and it never goes away. Type 2 requires consistent effort and can be managed over your lifetime.
What is the normal HbA1C level?
It is generally accepted that you should maintain HbA1C below 8%. The following guidelines are suggested by the South African Diabetes Association:
- 4 – 6% Non-Diabetic range.
- < 7% Well-controlled Diabetic 7% – 8% Acceptable Diabetic control > 8%
- Poor Diabetic control needs attention.
What is the main cause of Diabetes?
Diabetes (Type 1) is usually a predisposed or genetically inherited condition. Diabetes (Type 2) is caused by lifestyle choices. Gestational Diabetes can be caused by either genetics or lifestyle choices.
What are the first signs of Diabetes?
- Excessive thirst over a prolonged period.
- Increased frequency in the need to urinate.
- Significant weight loss or gain.
- You find yourself fatigued, tired, and irritable, on a regular basis.
- Open or ruptured wounds take a long time to heal.
- Blurred vision.
- Tingling sensations in your hands and feet.
Can you get life insurance if you have Diabetes?
Yes. AllLife can help you get up to R10million life insurance, as either a Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetic.
Can I test myself for Diabetes?
Although you can easily test your own blood glucose levels at any time, only your doctor, nurse, or clinic team can confirm a Diabetes diagnosis. This is because a series of specific tests are required for diagnosis.
Can sugar really put you in a better mood?
Find out if ‘sugar rushes’ are real and how to fight sugar addiction to better manage your Diabetes.
The 9 effects of alcohol and 7 helpful guidelines for you
Learn about the effects of different types of alcohol on diabetes as well as guidelines on alcohol consumption for diabetic people.
Why is breakfast a challenge for Diabetics?
We share dietary guidelines for breakfast meals for people living with Diabetes.